Many a regulator, politician, car manufacturer and tech journalist have postulated as to when the automated car revolution will begin and how long it will take before we are all eschewing driving around ourselves, to let the car do all of the work for us. While conservative estimates will pin the earliest motorway driving cars as set for sometime in 2017 and fully driverless cars for the mid-2020s, some believe that once that first generation lands, that the progression of the technology will be incredibly fast.
This is the line the Huffington Post is taking anyway, drawing a comparison with the smartphone industry, which has gone from basic feature phones and PDAs in the early ‘oos, to phones more powerful than desktop computers from a few years ago in just over a decade. Imagine then it says, what will happen with the car industry as that scene starts progressing. Considering still, that it won’t be restricted by space like many other technological standards and we could have some incredibly smart cars in our garages before long.
As the article points out, we’re already in the earliest stages of automated features in cars, with some using autonomous emergency braking and others coming fitted with smart cruise control which automatically accelerates and slows a car depending on how much space is in front and the speed that surrounding cars are travelling. Consider that those are just being introduced and we’re expecting cars that can essentially drive themselves in less than a decade, that’s a huge leap.
The big change in road safety and car usage will come when a large enough number are automated however, as the cars will be sharing information with one another to predict positioning and to make sure that there are no collisions. Imagine if you could communicate personally with every other driver on the road, instantly knowing where they are headed and what they are doing – that’s how accurate driverless cars will be.
But we’re already in a super-computing age with cars. The latest infotainment systems that are hooked up to smartphones have more processing power than the fastest computers in the world back in the 90s and that’s just today. In 10 years time, there’s the potential for even more monstrously powered computers within the dashboard, with fully realised 3D graphics for game playing, movie watching and augmented and virtual reality displays that can do all sorts of amazing things. And that goes doubly so when you factor in cloud processing.
If you’re thinking that you will remain steadfastly in the past with your gas guzzler, that may be possible to an extent, but consider that the government may force you to update your car to have some forms of basic safety features before long. In the EU, all cars will have to be fitted with the emergency contacting eCall system within a couple of years time and Italy has mandated the inclusion of telematics devices in all cars. If you buy old, you may be able to be grandfathered in, but any car bought from now on is going to be connected in some manner or another.
And the effect is only going to snowball after that.
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